Pocket Watch Witches Ep. 25


I woke up too early and added another two spells to the pirate’s sail for Daniel. I might have been able to squeeze in one more without making myself late, but I decided not to risk it. It didn’t take me long to change and eat breakfast. So, I still left my apartment with plenty of time to walk to my meeting. I booked an appointment with the owner of a building with shop spaces available. If things went well, I might find a storefront for my custom watches. 

The night’s chill hadn’t dissipated yet; it might not at all. Winter approached; soon enough, the sun wouldn’t do much to warm our days. Unlike the previous night, I prepared for the cold well this time. I wore my best suit. The dark purple jacket and pants matched the hand-stitched floral pattern on my lilac vest. No one on the street could appreciate the craftsmanship the boutique put into my suit, though. I covered it with a black coat that came down to my knees. The same seamstress sewed calla lily patterns into my lapels to tie the coat in with the suit beneath it.

I didn’t see many people on the streets. Anyone who didn’t have to work likely chose to spend the day inside. If not for my excitement to see the spaces, I probably would have stayed in too. Though, in that case, I’d spend the whole day fantasizing about my date with Jim. I couldn’t wait to see what he had planned. I’d selected the location for our last two outings. I wanted to visit somewhere he frequented and compare the ambiance to Parisian Pies. The Caster Bar had been fun for a celebratory night out, but I couldn’t see myself going there regularly as my former coworkers did. 

I lived in a decent neighborhood, but the difference in the upscale area I hoped to open my shop made my apartment look shabby. The closer I got to my destination, the more nervous I got. I hoped my outfit would look high-end enough to impress the building owner. It cost more than anything else I’d bought. At least the boutique offered alterations for life in the pricing. 

Mr. Chesterfield, the building owner, came around a corner and stopped in front of my destination. I smiled at my timing before schooling my face and approaching the man. He looked me over, but his expression didn’t give away any thoughts. He put out his hand for me to shake. I gripped it firmly and shook it up and down twice. 

I waited eagerly as Mr. Chesterfield unlocked the first storefront. He held the door open for me. I walked into a completely empty space. Windows covered two walls of the pentagonal room. That meant buying furnishings and having plenty of attractive display items to draw people in. I tried not to let my face fall. I liked the corner location for the foot traffic it would provide. But at the price of rent in this neighborhood, I’d hoped to avoid spending money on furniture. 

“That door leads to a private office,” Mr. Chesterfield said, pointing across from us. I walked over and opened the door to a much smaller room. I wanted to find a place that came with a workshop. 

“Does the unit come with a bathroom?” I asked, already knowing the answer. Unless he had a hidden door in here somewhere, that luxury hadn’t been considered when designing the space. 

“No. Most of the shop owners in this building rent apartments above and go upstairs for those needs,” he explained. 

“Good to know,” I said. Though I wasn’t opposed to the idea of moving, I hadn’t factored it in as part of my plan. I especially hadn’t imagined relocating to this area. How much of my profits would rent eat with both properties in this neighborhood? 

I politely nodded along as he talked up the other features of the storefront. The following two spaces he showed me had the same issues without the benefit of the corner location. I’d checked out completely before he showed me the final available unit. Although he’d saved the best for last, the price went up with each amenity it included. Maybe one day, I could have something with such a high monthly rent. I couldn’t afford over two months with my current savings. The other units, at least, would have given me a four-month cushion if things didn’t take off right away. 

“Thank you, these are lovely options,” I said, keeping my tone polite despite feeling discouraged. “I’ll contact you if I have any other questions.” 

“Very good,” he said. He walked me out of the last shop and locked up behind us. 

I wouldn’t give up just because this building didn’t suit my needs. If I stayed open, I’d find a place that checked enough of my boxes. That was enough disappointment for one day, though. I walked home, looking for some point that differentiated my neighborhood from this one. The shifts happened so subtly that I couldn’t say exactly where the price hike would occur. 

In my more optimistic fantasies, I imagined finding the perfect place and filling out paperwork until I went home to meet Jim. The reality had me back in my apartment shortly after lunchtime. I reheated one of the mini pies I’d brought home the night before and sulked in my kitchen while I ate it. Cogton hopped into the chair next to mine. I pet him until he curled up for a nap. Instead of wallowing in my bad mood, I went to my workshop to distract myself. 

I’d finished the pirate’s sails and started redoing the disenchantment on the last watch when I heard knocking on my front door. Not wanting to abandon the cleansing midway through, I rushed it a little. I still improved the results over what Greg had done, but the perfectionist in me knew I’d go over it one more time later. 

Jim held a bouquet of red roses when I opened the door. He looked me over and then looked at the flowers. The blossoms shifted from red to purple, matching my outfit. I took the bouquet and stood on my tiptoes to kiss him. 

“I’ll put these in water, and then we can go out,” I said. 

“All right,” he said, following me into the apartment. 

I filled a vase halfway with water from the kitchen sink. I slid the roses to the corner of my counter in the hopes that my cat wouldn’t notice them. Cogton rarely jumped up there, but I didn’t want to encourage his curiosity more than necessary. When I turned around, Jim lifted his eye quickly. I could guess what he’d been staring at, and it wasn’t the black and silver gear pattern painted on my vase. 

“Thank you for the flowers,” I said. I couldn’t help smirking at him, letting him know I didn’t mind the attention. If he told me he didn’t want to go out, I’d be more than happy to find a way to entertain him without leaving the apartment. 

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